Tale Of Two Birther Fantasies

Anti-Palin Obsessive Andrew Sullivan


Big "Birther"

Tom Maguire, of the JustOneMinute blog, on the “Birther” and the “Palin-faked-her-fifth-pregnancy” “conspiracies”:

The “Palin faked her fifth pregnancy” rumor is back, prompting Andrew Sullivan to tip us off to the title of his autobiography with a post titled “Wimpy and Gullible”.

The inscrutable logic is that, since Birthers are now being taken seriously, shouldn’t the press dive into the other birther fantasy? Geez, is it really that hard to find examples of the press refusing to probe behind the curtain of Obama’s life? My personal favorite is still the press refusal to engage the ongoing lies and evasions around the Obama/Ayers relationship (which reportedly included ghostwriting help on “Dreams” and an Ayers hand in Obama’s appointment as chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge)…

…the NY Times reported:

By Hawaiian law, birth records can be released only to people with “a direct and tangible” interest in them — a person born in the state, say, or certain relatives or their estates. So when questions about Mr. Obama’s birth first surfaced during the 2008 presidential election, his campaign posted a copy of his “certification of live birth” on a Web site; it states that Barack Hussein Obama II was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m.

When questions continued to pour in, the state’s health director, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, announced that she had seen the original records and that they showed that Mr. Obama was “born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen.”

So there is a more complete file of “original records” which could be released to Obama, but he has not requested it. Why not? Who knows? And Sully can’t even grasp that basic issue.

My official editorial position is that Obama is hiding his complete file just because it is his brand management strategy to hide everything about his past – try getting his law firm billing records, or a college transcript, or a financial aid form, or his senior thesis, or any damn thing at all. We will need to wait until he signs his eight-figure book deal to see some of that stuff, and then only if it fits his preferred narrative…

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Comments

  • ghancock  On April 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Re: “So there is a more complete file of “original records” which could be released to Obama, but he has not requested it. Why not? Who knows? And Sully can’t even grasp that basic issue.”

    Yes, there IS indeed a complete file of original records. Three Republican officials have repeatedly stated this, and they also said that the original records VERIFY the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii.

    However, Hawaii has repeatedly stated that it does not send out copies of the original documents to anyone–not even the person covered. That is because in 2001 it made the new short-form birth certificate, the Certification of Live Birth, the official birth certificate. And since then it has not sent out the originals anymore, not even to people born before 2001.

    And besides, the Certification of Live Birth is the official birth certificate, which means that it is the right birth certificate to show, despite what birthers claim. Thousands of people use the Hawaii Certification of Live Birth to get their US passports every year.

    • Ron  On April 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      please click on comments for this post to view my reply. Thanks

  • Ron  On April 20, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Assuming you’re correct about the policy in Hawaii, it is still hard to believe that the President of the United States couldn’t get Hawaii to release the original birth certificate. I find it hard to believe Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii. So why doesn’t he end the controversy once and for all? I agree with Maguire that he wants to control the narrative of his life, about which there are many gaps and questions, a few of which Maguire mentions. And it doesn’t hurt that the issue is a handy weapon against Tea Party types who allegedly believe he’s not natural born citizen.

  • ghancock  On April 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Re: “it is still hard to believe that the President of the United States couldn’t get Hawaii to release the original birth certificate.”

    Ask yourself this question. Could the President of the United States get a parking ticket fixed?

    Maybe he could, if he had the connections, but what would the downside be if it were found out?

    So the President of the US is in many ways less powerful than other folks–and rightfully so.

    Since Hawaii does not give out the long-form birth certificate to anyone else, it would be immediately be perceived as unfair for him to get it. An, getting it would be unnecessary, since the Certification of Live Birth is the official birth certificate. And getting it would be perceived as a way of saying that the Certification is not as good as the original birth certificate–which is not true, but if other people thought that it was–then Hawaii would have to release the long-form to them too, and the very movement to short-form birth certificates would be at risk. And, finally, to ask for the long-form birth certificate, even though it is unnecessary and unfair, would be perceived as giving in to the birthers, which would make them feel strong and the president be perceived as wimpy.

    You are absolutely right that Obama was born in Hawaii. He certainly was not born in Kenya or in any other country because children born in foreign countries require either US visas or to be entered on their mother’s US visa to enter the USA, and no such 1961 document nor the application for one has been found for Obama.

    • Ron  On April 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      The president is not above the law argument. Sorry, I don’t buy it. I suspect this is Hawaii’s policy, if what you say is true, not a law. Bottom line: Obama could produce the original document if he wished to do so.

      I would be more sympathetic to your view if he’d been “transparent” about other issues about his past (and the Democratic media were more curious). We have Bush’s (and Kerry’s) college transcripts, but not Obama’s. Why is the La Times sitting on the video Maguire mentions?

      Think of the multiple front page New York Times stories on McCain’s wife’s pain killer dependency and other irrelevant issues.
      Fixing a parking ticket is, I think, illegal and corrupt. Asking Hawaii to resolve a controversy is not illegal or a corrupt practice.

  • ghancock  On April 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    First, it is unnecessary. The Certification of Live Birth is the official birth certificate. Thousands of people use it to prove their birth in the USA.

    Second, if Obama asked for a special break, he would be asking for something that other people do not get.

    Third, it would be giving in to the birthers.

    The media were able to get Bush’s and Kerrey’s transcripts but not those of McCain, Romney, Palin, Clinton, Bush41, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ–etc. In other words, they got lucky in a couple of cases. Moreover, someone in Yale actually broke the privacy laws to leak Bush’s transcript.

    Giving out a college transcript is voluntary, and it should be. If in the next election the Republican candidate decides to give out her or his transcript, then Obama is likely to do so too.

    Have you heard the expression “two wrongs do not make a right?” It was wrong for the press to give details of McCain’s wife’s private problems. That does not mean that they should do the same for Michelle. They should, if there is an addiction problem investigate Obama or any candidate. But obviously they cannot make a problem when there isn’t one.

    There is plenty of the US press that is controlled by Republicans, even conservative Republicans, such as the Wall Street Journal and Fox News, both controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

    • Ron and Eleanor  On April 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

      As I remember Bush released his transcript voluntarily. Kerry released his with his military records after the election.It was clear why he did it, because his grades were worse than Bush’s.

      Sent from my iPad

  • ghancock  On April 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Re: “As I remember Bush released his transcript voluntarily. Kerry released his with his military records after the election.It was clear why he did it, because his grades were worse than Bush’s. ”

    Neither is true. Neither released their grades voluntarily. (A few presidents and candidates have released grade point averages, but that is not the same as detailed transcripts). Bush’s was leaked to the New Yorker Magazine by a source at Yale. Some time later, I forget how long, Kerry’s transcript was obtained by a FOIA request to the Navy.

    • Ron  On April 21, 2011 at 11:10 am

      I see you’ve done your Google research. There seems to be a hellavu lot of confusion over Hawaii’s policy on bc’s. For example try clicking on:
      http://www.westernjournalism.com/does-hawaii-ever-release-long-form-birth-certificates/

      Relevant quote:

      A former official with the Hawaii Department of Health says the computer image of a “Certification of Live Birth” displayed by the Obama campaign in 2008 to demonstrate the candidate’s constitutional eligibility as a “natural born citizen” to occupy the Oval Office is the only document the state releases.

      But testimony and documents from others who have received them from the state simply by requesting them raises questions about the comments of Chiyome Fukino, former head of the state agency in charge of birth records, including those that may reveal details of Barack Obama’s 1961 birth.

      It was in an interview with MSNBC that Fukino affirmed that the image of a short-form COLB is what the state releases.

      “What he got, everybody got,” Fukino said during the interview. “He put out exactly what everybody gets when they ask for a birth certificate.”

      That document, which contains no information regarding birth hospital, attendant, doctor or other details found on all original long-form birth certificates, contrasts with the actual birth certificate from Hawaii made public by Susan Nordyke, who was born in Honolulu Aug. 5, 1961, just one day after Obama’s reported date of birth and in the same hospital where he was reportedly born.

      And:
      http://www.thepostemail.com/2011/04/12/breaking-from-hawaii-no-more-long-form-birth-certificates/

      “…On April 11, 2011, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, former director of the Hawaii Department of Health, told MSNBC that long-form birth certificates were no longer available. But when did that become policy? Who ordered this change in policy since at least one such form was issued to a requester last month and posted here?…

  • ghancock  On April 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Ellen, on the Western Journalism site asked this:

    “IF the WND article you refer to were true, then you or WND could write the following advertisement and publish it in the Hawaii newspapers.

    “The officials in the Department of Health of Hawaii and, most recently, the Attorney General’s office of Hawaii have said that it is no longer possible to get a long-form birth certificate in Hawaii. But we say, based on images from birthers who posted them and that were picked up by WND, that they are both lying (or “mistaken,” if you are afraid of being sued or want to be nice) and that YOU can get your long-form birth certificate. So, go to your nearest DOH office and demand a copy of your long-form birth certificate. And, by the way, let us know if it works.”

    Why do I think that such an ad will never be run? ”

    So, since it became obvious that people cannot go down to the DOH office and get their long-form BCs, the Post & Email came out with a backup lie. It was that the officials in Hawaii had been lying about it being not possible to get long-form birth certificates in their statements in the newspapers, and hence that you COULD get long-form BCs if you asked, but now the policy has suddenly been changed–and you can’t get them anymore.

    Well, of course, if that were true, you could go to the DOH office and ask the clerk: “When did you change your policy? I understand that I could get my long-form BC until quite recently, but now I cannot.”

    Why do I think that no birther site will ask that question?

    Because the answer will be the same thing that was published in the Hawaii newspaper–that you cannot get your long-form now, and you also could not from 2001 to now. That was published in the Hawaii newspaper I forget when–maybe a year or so ago.

    It should be fairly obvious that when you publish in a Hawaii newspaper “You cannot get X,” but that you actually can get X, then people will call the newspaper and say “I got it–why are you publishing the error?” and the clerks at the DOH will do the same thing, and the newspaper would print a correction. But there has been no such correction.

    So, what about those two long-form BCs that the two people claim to have gotten recently? Well, they were sent to birther sites by birthers.

    • Ron  On April 21, 2011 at 11:38 am

      I guess we’ll have to wait for all these conflicting claims to be sorted out. What bothers me is that you can rest assured that, for example, the New York Times (Wikileaks conduit) or the New Yorker (who published Bush’s transcripts as you point out) will not try to get to the bottom of this as they would if it were Bush.

      Maybe the Wall Street Journal will try, although they consider it a distraction and not good for the GOP as does, I suspect, Fox News.

      I hope we could agree that this issue is mysteriously and almost certainly unnecessarily confusing. I mean it ought not to be all that difficult to get a clearly definitive answer on this. And I don’t buy the argument that the right is causing all the confusion.

  • ghancock  On April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Further to that. I see that Ellen also showed the enormous difference between the two alleged recently issued long-form BCs. One is on security paper. The other isn’t. One has the alleged recent signature and date of a current official in Hawaii; the other doesn’t.

    And Ellen also pointed out that the birther site did not call the official who is asserted to have signed the recently-issued long-form BC and ask him about whether he actually signed any long-form BCs at the time when he was alleged to have done so.

    • ron james  On April 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Curiouser and Curiouser. What is it? A riddle wrapped in an enigma.

  • ghancock  On April 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    No. It is a LIE. The two birthers who claimed to have gotten their long form birth certificates recently used old long-form BCs that their family had from the time of birth, and forged recent dates on them, and claimed that they got them recently.

    And there was a guy who claimed to have gone to Kenya and showed a “birth certificate” that he claimed to have gotten in Mombassa, but it turned out to be an obvious forgery, using US date formats instead of Kenyan/British formats, and misspelling the names of officials. And the guy who claimed to have gotten it in Kenya refused to even show his passport with a Kenya stamp on it.

    And there is another birther who claims on his site that he has evidence that 300 children born outside the USA were registered as having been born in Hawaii round about the time of Obama’s birth. But, when asked where he got the figures, or what he used as a factual basis of the claim–he never answered.

    And there are the birther sites that claim that Obama’s Kenyan grandmother said that he was born in Kenya. In fact, they cut off the tape just before she is asked where he was born. Why? Because the answer to that question, repeatedly, on the tape, was that he was born in Hawaii. And, in another interview, she said that the first that her family in Kenya had heard of Obama’s birth was in a letter from Hawaii. Birther sites never even mention that.

    And another thing that they do not mention is the obvious fact that if a child were born outside of the USA, she or he would need either a US visa or to be entered on his mother’s US passport to get to the USA. Obviously Obama did get to the USA, and in 1961 too because, birthers admit, there were witnesses who saw the child in Hawaii ten days or so after his birth.

    So, if he were born outside of the USA, he would have needed either that visa or to be entered on his mother’s US passport. And the application for such documents would exist in Kenya (or, for that matterr, in any other country other than the USA if he were born outside of the USA). Yet no such document has been found.

    Big lie technique: Just keep lying.

    Lie: The Certification of Live Birth is not a birth certificate. (It is, and thousands of people use it every year.)

    Lie: His grandmother said that her was born in Kenya.

    Lie: Hawaii issued birth certificates to people born outside of Hawaii. (Not in 1961. That was not allowed until 1982. And even after that date it did not allow Hawaii BC’s with the words “Born in Honolulu” on them unless there was proof that the child was born in Honolulu.)

    Lie: You can get a long-form BC in Hawaii now (or earlier this month) despite the officials in Hawaii having said that you could not have gotten one since 2001.

    Lie: Obama’s birth certificate was forged.

    Lie: Three Republican officials in Hawaii never confirmed the facts on Obama’s birth certificate.

    The New York Times does not need to investigate–anymore than it needs to investigate whether 2+2 really equals 4.

    • ron james  On April 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      Let me be clear: More than whether Barry was born in Hawaii, I care about why this is still an issue. I mean this isn’t like whether or not there was a conspiracy to murder JFK; that was infinitely more complicated.

      Despite your impressive number of “facts” (I’ll take you at your word that the above is all true), I can’t get past the fact that nobody can produce the original “long form” birth certificate. Maybe I’m naive, but I think most people if they had to or wanted to could produce such a document. Again, this isn’t like fixing a parking ticket. It would not be illegal for Obama to request (and the state to produce) what’s necessary to end this nonsense. Yes, there would be some who’d question its authenticity. But they would be like the Daily Beast columnist and Atlantic Monthly editor Andrew Sullivan who actually believes that Sarah Palin’s son Trig is really her daughter’s son, in other words they would be loony!

      They would be like those worthy citizens who believe that Israel (and of course, Bush) was behind the 9/11 attack and tipped off the Jews who worked at the WTC so they’d not be at work when the planes hit. They’d be like Maureen Dowd who believes apparently that Bush knew there were no WMD in Iraq but lied about it (I’m not talking about wrong intelligence here). They’d be like those who believe the Kennedy assassination was a CIA plot (Oliver Stone, who still gets to make movies). I could go on, but I think you must get the idea. The “birther” business is peanuts and even somewhat justifiable compared to what many liberals believe.

      So why don’t you turn your energies and research skills to debunking a few of the above “conspiracies”? No offense, but you come across as a bit obsessive-compulsive over this. The only prominent person who seems to lend credence to the birther stuff is Trump, but an awful lot of prominent people (see above) seem to believe much more preposterous bullshit.

  • ghancock  On April 22, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Re: “Maybe I’m naive, but I think most people if they had to or wanted to could produce such a document.”

    What part of “Hawaii does not give out the original anymore” don’t you get?

    As for the “issue” continuing, it continues because the professional birthers lie about it. When you constantly repeat lies some people tend to believe them.

    A fairly recent lie, run on the WND and Daily Mail blogs, was the allegation that the current governor of Hawaii, Abercrombie, had said that he could not find the original birth certificate, that it was not in Obama’s file. But this was a total lie. Abercrombie never said it. WND and the Daily mail said that he said it, but Abercrombie never said anything like it. And, to show how much of a lie it was, neither WND nor the Daily Mail interviewed Abercrombie, nor did they have access to a transcript of the interview with the Hawaii newspaper.

    As for it continuing to be an issue: Is it really? No senator or congressman has called for an investigation. Republican Speaker of the House Boehner and Republican House Leader Cantor do not believe the birther myth. Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Michelle Malikin all say that the birthers are crazy. Candidates Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee and former candidate Rudy Guliani all do not believe it. John McCain’s campaign actually investigated the allegation in 2008, and found that there was no proof behind it.

    And, you know, IF it really was an issue, if it really had a chance to affect the election in 2012 (which will be decided either way on the issues and not on the stupid claims about birth outside of the USA), then–and only then–could Hawaii reverse its current regulations on not giving out the long-form birth certificate, and start sending them out again, and send one to Obama.

    But before then ALL the Republican candidates in the primaries are likely to have to show their birth certificates, and odds are that some of them may not be able to show their originals either. Why not? Because a lot of states have gone to short-form birth certificates, and probably some of them also do not send out the originals anymore.

    I quite agree with you on the Kennedy myth, but I cannot convince my son-in-law. Dowd is clearly wrong. Bush was mistaken, not a liar when the war was launched. He continued to insist that there was a chance there was WMD in Iraq long after the experts proved that that was not true–but that is understandable. The Truther (twin tower plot) is truly stupid. For the obvious reasons of course, and one that sticks in my mind is the allegation that the plotters were able to blow up the buildings without pieces of detonators and explosive residue being found.

    There is a difference between these old stupid myths and the Obama lie. The Obama lie has real power in that a nut with a gun might actually believe it.

  • ron james  On April 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Re:There is a difference between these old stupid myths and the Obama lie. The Obama lie has real power in that a nut with a gun might actually believe it.

    Gosh, I don’t remember any Democrats or liberals when Bush was president worrying about how a nut with a gun might try to whack the “Bushitler.” As the always insightful Mark Steyn noted during the presidential campaign when the Democrats were playing the assassination card, Obama had more to fear from Hillary Clinton than the stereotypical “right-wing nut with a gun.” Remember, Oswald was a communist obsessed with Castro, Sirhan was an anti-Israel Palestinian.

    I can’t prove it, but I suspect that if you took a poll and asked people to describe the politics of Kennedy’s assassin, a majority would say he was a Southern racist upset by Kennedy’s putative support for civil rights (also a myth).

    One of my main interests is the Orwellian project of updating the past for political purposes.

    Again, unlike a lot of the conspiracy myths we’re talking about which really cannot be “proven” beyond a doubt (reasonable or otherwise), it just seems to me the birth certificate issue could be disposed of quite easily. It involves only one person, one place, and one document. Giving in to the birthers and arguments like that are basically irrelevant. As I said before, my theory is that Obama and his supporters want to keep the issue going because they think they can use it to tar the “Tea Party” folks, most of whom I suspect have no interest in the issue. Their issue is the size of the federal government and the ruinous spending. But Obama and his supporters will continue to ascribe these views to them in order to portray them as “extremists.”

  • ghancock  On April 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Re: “Gosh, I don’t remember any Democrats or liberals when Bush was president worrying about how a nut with a gun might try to whack the “Bushitler.”

    Threats to Obama,recorded by the Secret Service are four times as high as they were under Bush.

    More importantly, two wrongs do not make a right. The fact that some Democrats lied (or claimed falsely without actually knowing that they were untrue) about Bush not having been legally elected (the AP did a count and found that Bush won Florida by slightly more than one hundred votes) or the lie that Bush knew that there were no WMDs does not make it right to lie about Obama not having been born in Hawaii–ESPECIALLY if your motive is to convince a nut with a gun.

    To be sure it is good electoral politics to allow your opponents to say something stupid. But the Secret Service and hence Obama surely know that it is dangerous–physically dangerous–to allow the myth continue. Hence, despite the good politics of the move, I doubt that Obama is doing it.

    If he isn’t doing it, it must be because he cannot stop the myth, and the reason that he cannot stop the myth is the repeated lies by the birthers. Even if he somehow were able to get and show his original long form birth certificate, they would simply switch to other lies, that it was forged, or the stupid two-fer claim that a Natural Born Citizen requires two citizen parents.

    • Ron and Eleanor  On April 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      That’s not true. When the head of the Secret Service testified about the White House gate crashing of that wacky couple, he said the number of threats for Bush and Obama was about the same.

      Sent from my iPad

  • Ron  On April 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Please click on below:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53563.html

    Who knew that birtherism started with the Clintons?.

  • ghancock  On April 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I stand corrected on the four times higher level of threats. I did not check my recollection, and as I see now, it was wrong.

    Despite this, there is still danger that nuts with guns will believe lies–about Obama or for that matter about future presidents. That leaves the obvious question, what is the motive of someone who knowingly creates or repeats a lie such as “Obama’s Kenyan grandmother said that he was born in Kenya (she actually said that he was born in Hawaii)? What is the MOTIVE?

    In any case, it is a lie.

    The same holds for “the Certification of Live Birth” is not a birth certificate.

    And for “You can get long-form birth certificates from Hawaii right now (after 2001)”

    And for “Obama was adopted in Indonesia”

    And for “Obama became a citizen of Indonesia.”

    And for: “There is no proof that Obama was born in Hawaii” (The official birth certificate, the confirmation of three officials, and the notices in the newspapers all are proof.)

    • Ron and Eleanor  On April 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      The motive is they don’t like Obama. Or they may want to defeat him in the next election and some may even hate him.

      But that is hardly new. The same motive led people to spread malicious gossip and lies about Jefferson, FDR, GHW Bush, GW Bush and lots of others we could mention, like, uh, Sarah Palin f’rinstance.

      Sent from my

  • ghancock  On April 25, 2011 at 10:35 am

    The way to defeat a seated president is to show that she or he has done a bad job. That works a lot better than LYING about his place of birth, which tends to make people think that you are a nut and a liar. True, people have lied about the backgrounds of presidents for centuries–but to make up the lie that Obama’s grandmother said that he was born in Kenya when she actually said that he was born in HAWAII is going pretty far.

    Two wrongs do not make a right. That means that it remains immoral to lie about Obama despite past lies about GW Bush.

    • Ron  On April 25, 2011 at 11:36 am

      I didn’t say or imply that it was ethical to make up lies about a president (or anyone else, for that matter) in order to defeat him or her. I mean that Obama is hardly a unique victim. And besides, according to a piece in Politico, not a right wing web site, the whole thing started with Hillary and company: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53563.html

      I think Obama and his supporters ought really to stop bitching about this. Compared to the nonsense hurled at GW Bush and lots of others, Obama’s been treated with kid gloves. I hate to say it, but most critics of Obama know that they really can’t “go to far” as you say, or they will have the R Bomb dropped on them, a weapon against which there is no defense.

  • ghancock1  On April 27, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Obama has just released his long-form birth certificate, but it was not necessary. The official birth certificate of Hawaii is used by thousands of people every year to get their US passports.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/apr/27/

    The original birth certificate says exactly the same things as the COLB, which is the official birth certificate. And it does not have anything on it that is embarrassing, and it says the name of the hospital that Obama has always said (and his sister too. UPI got it wrong in one article, but she also always said Kapiolani), and that was also the name of the hospital given by the former governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle.

    • ron james  On April 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

      I never said I believed the birther argument. See today’s post for my take.

  • Ron  On April 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

    This may answer some questions. Note the part about persons with a tangible interest:

    http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2011/04/trump-gets-results.html

  • ron james  On April 29, 2011 at 11:57 am

    From Andrew McCarthy.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/265880/birth-certificate-where-are-indignant-questions-obama-andrew-c-mccarthy

    …When I read … yesterday about how the White House was also releasing the relevant correspondence between Obama’s lawyers and the Hawaii health department regarding the certificate, I said to myself: “Okay, we are finally going to learn that there’s been some bureaucratic complication beneath all this intrigue.” But no: The request for certified copies of the birth certificate was (finally) made last week, on a Friday, in two short letters — including a four-sentence letter signed by the president that obviously took him considerably less time to review than it takes to stretch before teeing off at the first hole. The birth certificate was produced the following business day (Monday) — with the health department expressing hope that its production “will end the numerous inquiries” it had gotten over the years, which “have been disruptive to staff operations and have strained State resources.” And Obama was able to do his dog-and-pony show yesterday morning, only five days after asking the health department to produce the document.

    If George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, or even a Republican the media likes (say, John McCain) had taken purposeful steps to block examination of so basic a document, the media would surely have turned such obstinacy into a scandal. The public might not have leapt to extravagant conclusions about whether they’d really been born in Kenya, or on Mars, or wherever. But they’d have thought it was intolerably strange that campaigns were retaining lawyers and amassing affidavits rather than just producing a seemingly innocuous, readily producible document. The story would never have been about the people asking for the birth certificate; it would have been about the candidate who was moving heaven and earth to prevent people from seeing it.

    And let’s not ignore that Obama did move heaven and earth. This is not just a matter of him thumbing his nose at a fringe collection of nutty “birthers.” There have been several court cases. It is flat out bizarre that one should have to be sued to compel conformance with a routine that millions of Americans comply with every day. Many of these court cases, if not all, could have been short-circuited (indeed, many of the later ones would not have been filed at all) if Obama had just produced the birth certificate. Instead, he not only refused to produce it; he and his campaign paid thousands of dollars in legal fees (in some places it is reported to be well over a million dollars) to fight the lawsuits — and Obama’s lawyers even threatened to seek disciplinary sanctions against lawyers for daring to file the lawsuits. Since Obama has been president, moreover, not just the time of courts and private lawyers has been tied up; government lawyers have had to spend their time — on the public’s dime — on this nonsense.

    There appears to be nothing remarkable about the president’s long-form birth certificate. As I’ve said before, the vast majority of people have long rightly accepted the fact that he was born in Hawaii and is an American citizen, no meaningful evidence to the contrary every having been produced to rebut the short-form certificate and the contemporaneous birth announcements in local newspapers. The constitutional question material to the matter of Obama’s eligibility — and one that is unlikely ever to get serious consideration — is whether Obama is a “natural born” citizen. That question centers on the ramifications, if any, of the fact that Obama’s father was not an American, and of Obama’s status as a dual citizen (of Kenya for a time, and possibly of Indonesia). Obama had to know that he had nothing to fear from production of the long-form certificate on this score — it doesn’t provide any relevant information that wasn’t already known.

    So, assuming as we should the legitimacy of the long-form birth certificate produced yesterday, the only thing that makes sense is that Obama knows the mainstream media is in his hip pocket. That is, he knew that he would not be held to the same standard as other politicians, and that if he acted in an unreasonable manner by withholding basic, easily available information that any other person seeking the presidency would be expected — be compelled — to produce, the media would portray as weirdos those demanding the information, not Obama and his stonewalling accomplices. And he also knows that, having now finally produced the document only because the game was starting to hurt him politically, the media will not focus on how easy it would have been to produce the birth certificate three years ago, or on how much time and money has been wasted by his gamesmanship; they’ll instead portray him as beleaguered and the people who have been seeking the basic information (i.e., doing the media’s job) as discredited whackos.

    It’s hard to say what’s more depressing, Obama’s cynicism or the zeal with which the media does his bidding.

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